A few years ago while sitting in a leadership meeting at church, a word popped into my head. It was the word,
For some reason we were talking about shifting ministry expectations, we were being coached that changes were happening and we’d need to be flexible during the process. I don’t remember the entire context, but when that word popped into my mind I ran with it. It felt right, like being nimble would be an antidote to the changes taking place in real time.
Little did I realize that it would be so appropriate today!
Who thought a pandemic would last so long? And I don’t know about all of you, but in many ways, 2021 was a bit harder than 2020 despite heart surgery and job loss. More people have died of Covid in 2021 and the vaccine debate has been hot and heavy across the nation. It seems like being shut away in our homes has given rise to a tribalism beyond normal.
It makes me sad
I’m now beginning to wonder if the pandemic is a training ground for nimble living that we may need going forward. Certainly we’ve had to be nimble through this current outbreak, but what lies ahead that we may need it for?
Currently, I’m learning to apply nimbleness in my daily life as I support a husband who is still battling the effects of heart surgery, depression and a new job. Bruce continually tells me that HE is a full time job – I ain’t gonna argue with him…And nimble is how I roll when it comes to gathering, going out, travel and all the usual life activities that I took for granted prior to the pandemic.
There’s that ‘new normal’ I hate so much…
Remember the old children’s rhyme, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick”? And what is it Jack did? He jumped over a candlestick – right? I’m thinking that there may be some lit fires ahead. Ones that we’ll need to have quick jumping skills for, so we avoid getting singed. Who ever thought there’d be such an outcry over a simple vaccine? Not me – but I have to be nimble when discussing it or I could start a forest fire.
Economically our lives are in for some interesting times. Maybe inflation, maybe early retirement, maybe job loss, maybe job shifting to accommodate a changing world. It’s really anyone’s guess. And looking to the political landscape won’t help, those people have nothing hopeful to offer. I’m daily convinced that self-interest is their guiding principle, despite their title of ‘public servant’.
Who ever thought evangelical churches would be experiencing this current exposure of their institutional and personal sins? One scandal after another appears, almost daily. Dodging through the wake of this tsunami is like walking between eggs and wildfires. Step too hard on one, you crack someone or yourself, step wrong and you get burned.
Nimble stepping required
In that old rhyme, not only does Jack jump over a candlestick, he lands on his feet. It implies he was quick, light on his feet and able to judge his obstacle in a way that allowed him to avoid being burned.
The Oxford definition of Nimble is, “Quick and light in movement or action, agile; with a deft motion of her nimble fingers”. It also applies to thinking, Quick to comprehend, “she is well read and intellectually nimble”
Something that strikes me about nimble thinking is that it’s the total opposite of
Stuck in old thinking or action. Stuck in a time warp. Stuck in a thought pattern that isn’t open to being challenged. Stuck because of who you listen to, or what you read. Only embracing the opinions of people you agree with. Not thinking critically about issues. Accepting the word of someone you’ve always respected instead of thinking for yourself. Stuck because of a particular interpretation of the Bible instead of it’s true meaning.
Sooo many ways to be stuck!
I can raise a hand here cuz I’ve been stuck a time or two in my thinking. And I’ve known people who are stuck (cement, wood blocks, steel posts all come to mind). It’s a tough thing to break free from. Tragedies, catastrophes, life altering events all seem to get my attention when I’m stuck. I feel guilty that it takes the big things in life to unstick me, but it’s much better than staying stuck. I think it’s changing, I don’t feel like I need a big event to move me along anymore.
But you never know…
One of the things the pandemic has illuminated for me, is the way people, especially Christians, have aligned with their chosen voices. They have certainly made it known who they listen to, who they agree with and who they disagree with! Social media is a geyser of opinion, reposts and, dare I say it, lots of odd bits of information (ehem…misinformation?). The various ‘prophetic’ declarations are exhaustive. I always thought the 70’s were saturated with prophetic fear, but today….!!!!
If you’re like me and you want to be a person that anyone can connect with…tribalism isn’t the way forward. In fact, there isn’t anything more guaranteed to drive others away than passionate tribalism!
By doing my best to avoid aligning with a specific tribe, I’ve been rewarded with a richer and more diverse life. My old thinking has been tested and found wanting. My willingness to listen to the stories of people so different than me has gifted me with relationships I never dreamed of. And my desire to grow this diverse life has become a guiding principle. And I know it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t relocated to a big, diverse city.
Moving to a big city isn’t for everyone, I get that. But learning to be nimble doesn’t always require it. Finding others who are different from yourself isn’t hard. Sometimes it’s merely looking at your neighbor, or within your own family. Whatever your situation is, being intentional at seeking out people who are different from you will lead to a rich and rewarding life. Both naturally and supernaturally.
I highly recommend it!